The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Life Planning
We’ve heard it many times before.
“Why pay an Estate Planning attorney to do something that I could just do myself?”
With accessibility to the internet, sure–one can absolutely find what appears to be the appropriate template and documents one needs and create your own Living Will or Trust. What many people may not realize, however, is that by creating a Life Plan on your own, you might be missing important legal and technical points, which in turn, could cost your estate and/or beneficiaries thousands of dollars (or more). That’s where the fault could lie in not wanting to hire an attorney, simply because of the cost associated with it. You’re “saving” money in the present, costs your family dearly in a time when they’re already grieving.
Another reason why DIY Life Plans aren’t always a good idea, is that they typically do not allow for any sort of customization. Working with a professional, Life Planning attorney allows your Life Plan to be executed based on your individual needs. No two Life Plans are created equal, as everyone’s situation is different, and DIY plans may not be able to spell out exactly what your future plans are. Those DIY websites put it in small print, but they tell you that they are not attorneys and not a substitute for an attorney. Nor can they assure you that they have the most up-to-date language to comply with applicable laws and statutes. So, are you truly saving money?
In what situations is a DIY plan insufficient?
We’d like to say all, naturally, but there are specific situations in which a DIY plan will not benefit to your needs. This includes, but is not limited to, if:
- You own real estate
- You have minor children
- You wish to disinherit a spouse or a child
- You hold stake in a small business
- You desire to leave money to your grandchildren, but not to your children
- You have investments, including an IRA or a 401(k)
- You wish to arrange long-term care for a disabled beneficiary
- You are concerned about a young or irresponsible beneficiary making unwise decisions regarding their inheritance
- You have a potentially taxable estate
- You fear a challenge to your Will
- You share property with someone who is not your spouse or legal partner
This is not a complete list.
You are not a “boilerplate” of a person, so your Life Plan shouldn’t be, either. We wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have the ability and opportunity to put their Life Plan in place. We understand that while it may come at a higher cost than the online DIY websites, you cannot put a price on peace of mind. What we hear time and time again, is “wow, I never thought of that!”, “wow, there is a lot that goes into this!”, or many other variations of that.
While it can sometimes be more convenient to create a Life Plan yourself, you should remain cognizant of the potential risks that come with that. Saving more money up front, may cost you more in the long run. As the classic idiom warns against, you don’t want to be penny wise and pound foolish.
If you have questions about Life Planning in Florida, attorney Mark F. Moss can help you understand what options you have available. To arrange a confidential consultation over the phone or in person in Jacksonville, please call 904-329-7242 or inquire online today.
*Disclaimer: Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only. It is best to speak with an attorney about your specific situation, questions, assets, concerns, and needs.